Domestic violence, sexual violence and violence against women

Where to get help and support if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence.

Quick exit

Domestic violence

If you are being abused, threatened, physically or sexually assaulted by a partner, ex-partner or family member, this is domestic violence. It is important to recognise this is happening to you, understand you are not to blame, and get help and support. There are a range of organisations locally and nationally that can provide help and support, and explore the options available to you, whether or not you want to leave the relationship (go to 'help and support' below).

Domestic violence involves a pattern of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional), between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic and other communities such as so-called ‘honour based violence’, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Anyone can experience domestic violence - it can happen in any relationships regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, income, geography or lifestyle. Physical and sexual violence often gets worse over time, and can be very dangerous, particularly for women, and especially at the point of separation. Research shows, however, that domestic violence is gendered: most perpetrators are male and most victims are female, and the gender of both victim and perpetrator influences behaviour, risk, and the severity of harm caused.

Domestic violence also presents a risk of harm to children and young people, by either witnessing domestic violence while growing up, being directly abused themselves, or by experiencing domestic violence in their relationships as teenagers.

For more information about domestic violence data and action to prevent domestic violence in the city, see:

Sexual violence

If you are or have experienced any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature, you are not to blame, and there is help available. There are a range of organisations locally and nationally that can provide help, counselling and support, and explore the options available to you, whether or not you want to leave the relationship (go to 'help and support' below).

Sexual violence and abuse is any behaviour perceived to be of a sexual nature which is unwanted and takes place without consent or understanding. This includes:

  • rape and sexual assault
  • sexual violence and abuse (by partners, family members and by strangers)
  • sexual harassment
  • child sexual abuse
  • sexual exploitation associated with trafficking and the sex industry.

The sex industry includes prostitution, pornography and other commercial sex-based activities such as lap-dancing, often - but not solely - associated with the ‘night time economy’. Trafficking into and within the UK is internationally recognised to be linked to prostitution; facilitating the movement of women for prostitution within (as well as across) borders constitutes trafficking. State agencies have a responsibility to tackle the demand for prostitution (UN Optional Protocol on Trafficking in Human Beings).

Anyone can be affected by sexual violence and abuse, including women, men, children and young people. It has a devastating impact on victims, their families and friends and wider society, and the impact on individuals is likely to affect mental, physical and sexual health.

For more information about sexual violence data and action to prevent sexual violence in the city, see:

Violence against women

Violence against women is violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman, or that affects women disproportionately. This includes:

  • domestic violence
  • rape and sexual violence
  • stalking
  • sexual harassment
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • crimes in the name of ‘honour’
  • sexual exploitation, including that associated with trafficking and the sex industry (prostitution and pornography)

These crime types disproportionately affect women and are most often perpetrated by known men, to exert power and control. Nearly half of women are likely to experience such violence in their lifetime. Violence against women is one of the most serious inequalities facing women in the UK today: nationally and internationally this is recognised as a fundamental violation of human rights, a cause and consequence of gender inequality, and of broader social, economic and cultural discrimination experienced by women.

Help and support

How to get help

You can report any form of abuse or violence to the Police in following ways:

Remember if you or someone else is in immediate danger, please call 999 and ask for the police.

If it is not safe for you to speak you can use the Silent Solution system - call 999, and if you don’t speak you will be diverted to an automated system. You can then press 55 to be transferred to the local police force.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), or Clare’s Law, is a way to find out if your partner has a history of domestic abuse and may pose a risk to you. Request information under Clare's Law: Make a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) application.

Specialist services

Domestic Violence

If you’ve been affected by domestic violence and want to find out more about the help, advice and support available locally contact the Brighton and Hove Domestic Abuse Support Service at Victim Support. Send an email to b& or phone 0300 323 9985, if all the staff are on other calls please do leave a message and someone will call you back as soon as possible.

To make a professionals referral please send an email to

Go to the Victim Support website for more information

Victim Support is specialist domestic abuse support in Brighton & Hove. This service starts on 1 April 2021. Providing independent information, advice, support and advocacy to victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Brighton & Hove, including:

  • access to 24/7 helpline & webchat
  • 1-2-1 casework support from trained Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs)
  • Hospital IDVA based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital
  • Criminal Justice IDVA to provide support through the criminal justice system.

If you are in need of a Refuge space or you wish to make a professional referral, please contact Stonewater. Phone 01293 780 419 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or send an email to Referrals to the Brighton Refuge are accepted from any source. Please note the area code and phone number listed above are correct and will take you to the local Brighton and Hove Refuge staff. If all the staff are on other calls please do leave a message and someone will call you back as soon as possible.

If you need information about Refuge spaces nationally  or outside of office hours, please contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline. Phone 0808 2000 247 or go to the National Domestic Abuse website for more information

Stonewater provide the specialist Brighton Refuge provision from 1 April 2021. It provides safe accommodation and support for women (18+) and their children, aged 0 to 18, who are fleeing domestic abuse. We accommodate up to 15 women (plus their children) in self-contained accommodation, with a specialist staff team who are trained in:

  • Trauma Informed Care
  • substance use support
  • mental health support,
  • Psychologically Informed Environments

Sexual Violence

For specialist rape and sexual violence support please contact Survivors Network. Phone 01273 203 38 or send an email to

Go to the Survivors Network website for more information: To make a professional enquiry please send an email to

Survivors Network offer a range of services including:

  • helpline
  • drop in
  • counselling
  • Independent Sexual Violence Advisory Service (ISVA)
  • workshops and groups
  • children and young people’s services
  • male survivors support
  • advice and information 


For specialist stalking advocacy support please contact Veritas Justice. Phone 01273 234 773 or send an email to Go to the Vertitas Justice website for more information on stalking advocacy and advice services.

Veritas have expertise in providing specialist support to victims of stalking and understanding victims’ needs.

Their services include:

  • Stalking Advocacy Service
  • training and workshops
  • cyber and online safety advice

Safeguarding children

To find out about the support available for you and your family, or if you are concerned about a child's welfare contact the Front Door for Families team.

Go to the Front Door for Families web page or phone 01273 290 400

Safeguarding adults

Report abuse or neglect of an adult online or contact Access Point on 01273 29 55 55.

If you're a professional, complete the safeguarding adults at risk form.

National support

Helplines that are available

24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline

For women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

Freephone 0808 2000 247.

Go to the National Domestic Violence Helpline website.

National LGBT+ domestic violence helpline

Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse

Freephone 0800 999 5428.

Go to the LGBT+ domestic violence helpline website.

National Stalking helpline

Phone: 08088 020 300

Go to the National Stalking helpline website.

Respect phone line

A confidential helpline for people who are abusive and/or violent towards their current or ex-partner. They offer information and advice to support perpetrators to stop their violence and change their abusive behaviours.

Freephone 0808 802 4040.

Go to the Respect phone line website.

Respect Men's Advice Line

A confidential helpline offering advice and support for male victims of domestic violence or abuse.

Freephone 0808 801 0327

Go to the Respect men's advice line website.

Keeping yourself and your children safe

There are steps you can take in some situations to help keep yourself (and your children) safe:

  • Tell someone you trust about the situation. Ask them to keep an eye on you. Decide on a safe word or phrase you can use, or text to let them know you are in danger. Agree what they would do in this situation, for example call the police
  • Plan what to do in an emergency when at home. Decide which room at home feels safest and which friends or family you can turn to. If you can’t leave the property try to block yourself in the safest room and call 999 - see below for what to do if you can’t speak when you call
  • Teach your children when to call 999, what to do, and how to give their address. Ask neighbours to call 999 if they hear a disturbance. Keep copies of important documents, along with some emergency money, any medication, and a packed bag for emergencies in a safe place or with a trusted friend or family member
  • If it is not safe for you to speak you can use the Silent Solution system - call 999, and if you don’t speak you will be diverted to an automated system. You can then press 55 to be transferred to the local police force.
  • Keep your phone close and fully charged. Put important numbers on speed dial
  • Keep a date, time and item record of unwanted contact and how it made you feel. Only do this if you have a safe place to store it
  • If you are planning to leave ask for help and support to consider how to do it in the safest way possible

Other useful services


RISE is a Sussex-based charity that supports people affected by domestic abuse and violence.

Go to the Rise UK website.

Safe Space Sussex

Directory of support services if you have been the victim of a crime.

Go to the Safe Space Sussex website.

Women's Centre

Information and support, counselling and complimentary therapies by appointment

Go to the Women's Centre website.

Victim Support

Help for victims of crime and hate incidents.

Go to the Victim support website.